Mr Bayo Onanuga, the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), has unveiled some of the frontiers the agency is exploring to boost its internal revenue to complement dwindling government’s funding.
Addressing members of staff on Friday in Abuja on the threat by three unions to embark on a warning strike next week, Onanuga said that NAN has the potentials to be self-sufficient and it was working towards achieving that.
He explained that the agency is planning to expand its SMS service and introduce photo portal to serve both national and international clients.
Aside the free-to-read nan.ng, PRwire and General news service, the Agency is also commercialising its landed properties across the country.
These measures, he explained, are necessary to make-up for the shortfalls from government’s overhead as well as generate enough revenue to meet the needs and welfare of members of staff.
He explained that management had invited the three unions to a truce meeting but they refused to turn up with the excuse that NAN refused to invite some union leaders based in Lagos.
The Managing Director, who interacted with members of staff on the face-off, explained that the Agency had since September 2017 forwarded the revised condition of service to the Ministry of Information and Culture for further action.
Onanuga said the issue of conditions of service was, therefore, no longer the responsibility of NAN as the ministry was expected to make its input and forward the document to the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation for consideration.
NAN reports that the revised condition of service was an improvement on that of 2002.
Analysing the financial woes of the Agency, he said, though overhead to the agency had dropped drastically in spite of increase in number of staff and responsibility, the money was not regularly remitted to the Agency.
“For example, NAN got just six allocations out of the 12 months of last year. This is the seventh month of the year, NAN has only received overhead three times.’’
He explained that the situation is the same all over as the federal government was no longer buoyant.
He said that all officers invited for promotion interview were paid transport allowance, which is the practice he met when he assumed office in 2016.
He explained that he had contacted the ministry of information and discovered also that because of the dearth of funds, the ministry does not pay Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) to officers attending promotion examination. The situation, he said, was the same in most MDAs.
Onanuga also explained that he decided to restrict the examination to Abuja and Lagos centres to save cost.
On payment of promotion arrears and shortfall, he explained that all documents concerning the issues have been forwarded to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for payment and that the management would continue to monitor the situation.
He explained that the payment of salaries, including arrears, was the responsibility of IPPIS in Accountant General’s office.
He explained that within the limit of its resources, the Agency has been sending staff to various training as well as looking out for organisations to provide specialised training for the staff to boost their competence.
He also explained that the management was not owing any overtime arrears as he he had cleared all the backlog of claims since he assumed office.
He also debunked the union’s claim that some staff who returned from duty tour abroad were yet to be paid their repatriation allowance,
He said in the last two years he had been able to clear almost all the entitlements of such officers and he was making efforts the rest is cleared within the next few months.
He appealed to members of staff to cooperate and contribute their quota to the development of the agency which he said was already enjoying goodwill of clients and stakeholders.
The Managing Director would also hold an interaction with members of staff in Lagos on Monday.
The chapels of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Radio, Television and theatre Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTWU) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service and Technical and Recreational Employees (AUPCTRE) had on Monday issued a seven-day ultimatum to the management to embark on a three-day warning strike on July 26.